8. Oyster Alley Boardwalk

Welcome to the Oyster Alley boardwalk. Here, you’ll find several exhibit panels about the various creatures that call the salt marsh home.

One of the most important animals present, is the Eastern Oyster. Oysters are a keystone species for the Salt Marsh, meaning that it is species extremely important to the habitat where they live, without oysters, the salt marsh ecosystem would collapse.

Filter feeding is one of services provided by oysters in the Salt Marsh. During high tide, oyster will open their shell to let water in to feed. They will then filter the incoming water so they can eat the plankton, micro-organisms and other small particles in the water. After feeding, the oyster will then spit out cleaned water. By repeating this process again and again throughout the high tide, an oyster is capable of filtering anywhere from 13 to 30 gallons of water in a day. The millions of oysters found in the Lowcountry’s Salt Marsh work like a giant filter constantly cleaning the coastal water. As the tide is going out, see if you can see oysters spitting out their filtered water.

Oysters also work as break waters lining the edge of channels in the salt marsh and diminishing the erosion caused by tidal current and waves formed by boat traffic. Our oysters grow in clusters, called oyster beds or reefs. Large oyster beds in the marsh provide fish habitat and shelter during the high tide.

Furthermore, not only humans like to eat oysters! While adult oysters are common food for fish and birds, microscopic oyster eggs and larvae are a major source of food for small creatures in the marsh such as crabs and snails.